October 03, 2011
Posted by Joe Chuba
Penn State play-by-play voice Steve Jones recaps the Nittany Lions 16-10 victory over Indiana, and previews the Big Ten home opener against Iowa.
An interesting day in Bloomington, and the Nittany Lions are out of the gate in the Big Ten. Once again the defense played superb. They forced 10 three-and-outs in 15 Indiana possessions, and that is hard to do when the opponent wants to run so many plays. Penn State handled the pace well and gave up only one fourth quarter touchdown.
Devon Still continues to dominate in the middle, and Jordan Hill had three tackles for losses. Sean Stanley has already forced three fumbles this season. Gerald Hodges had one of the better games of his career as he put together a game high 11 tackles.
Penn State won the special teams area. On punts, kickoffs and field goals Anthony Fera was solid. I have written before that solid placekicking gives an offense scoring range, and he did that Saturday. He changed field position with his punts and his kickoffs were high and allowed the coverage team to get the job done.
A lot of the focus from the game deals with the offense. It was a strange day. Penn State had nearly 500 yards in total offense, they were 9-20 on third down, and ran for 193 yards. Those numbers should show a big number on the scoreboard. It did not translate that way. Two red zone turnovers hurt as Rob Bolden threw the ball too far in front of Andrew Szczerba for an interception, and Silas Redd fumbled at the two yard line. Both were crushing because each touchdown would have set a tone for a much, much easier day.
Penn State needs to do a much better job on offense in two areas. First of all, stay on schedule. Penn State has run 77 third down plays this season, and only 20 of them are less than four yards. When Penn State is on schedule they get the job done on offense. The next area they need to do a better job is on third and short. Penn State is only 10 of 20 on third and less than four. You have to be able to knock people off the ball in those situations with more consistency, at least 60-70% of the time. It won’t happen every time but more consistency is needed there.
Iowa has had two weeks to prepare. James Vandenberg is off to a great start by hitting 62% of his passes with ten touchdowns and only one interception this season. He has some terrific targets to throw to including Marvin McNutt, Keenan Davis, and Kevon Martin-Manley . Those three have combined for 58 catches in the opening four games.
Marcus Coker was the MVP of the Insight Bowl when he ran for better than 200 yards against Missouri. He is rolling again with 380 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.
The Iowa defense has been ok so far giving up 386 yards per game and nearly 24 points per game. This has been a high pressure, ball hawking defense over the years under Norm Parker. They have forced eight turnovers so far and have eight sacks. Good numbers but not to Iowa standards.
Mike Meyer has been very good as a kicker this season by hitting 8 of 10 field goals including a 50 yard field goal against Iowa State.
Everyone is aware of the recent history with Iowa and this is a very big game for both teams Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
Author: Joe Chuba
Bio: Sports Producer for WPSU-TV
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